SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – New York will soon have the only nationwide commission that investigates prosecutorial misconduct.
Syracuse-area state Senator John DeFrancisco wrote the legislation, which was signed by Gov. Cuomo this week. It creates an 11-member commission that can look into claims of misconduct by prosecutors.
DeFrancisco likens it to a commission created 40 years ago that did the same thing with judges.
“Over the years it’s ended up changing the way judges treat litigants. They’re not emperors, over their little fiefdoms. But they treated people with respect and the problems that were existing changed,” said DeFrancisco. “There weren’t as many because there was an independent body looking over them. And I think in the long run, that’s exactly what’s going to happen with the prosecutorial commission.”
The commission would begin investigating claims of misconduct in 2019. Governor Cuomo signed it despite opposition from the state District Attorney’s Association.
DeFrancisco said this commission a remedy for the prosecutors who violate the law.
“The vast majority of prosecutors are great people who do a great job,” he said. “But there are people who have violated the law by not providing exculpatory evidence to defendants, who served years in jail and are brought back and released. And the state pays millions of dollars in wrongful prosecution.”
DeFrancisco is retiring at the end of this year after 26 years as a state lawmaker. This is the final piece of legislation he has gotten through the legislature.